Just days after being cleared by the Press Complaints Commission for its role in the collapse of the Beckham kidnap trial, the News of the World has received a libel challenge over the story.
Alin Turcu, one of the five men accused by the NoW of plotting to kidnap Victoria Beckham, has sent a solicitors’ letter to the paper threatening libel action.
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On 3 November the NoW published a front-page story headlined “Posh Kidnap”, illustrated with pictures of five men being arrested the previous day.
Turcu, aged 18 at the time, was one of the five and spent nine months on remand at Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution.
When the case came to trial, the charges were dropped and the Attorney General found that one of the factors in the trial’s collapse was the payment of £10,000 by the NoWto co-defendant Florim Gashi. No proceedings were brought against theNoWfor contempt of court and last week the PCC cleared the paper of breaching press guidelines.
Turcu’s lawyer, David Price, said: “This was a stage-managed and nauseatingly self-congratulatory article, designed to boost the circulation of the News of the World. “Imagine how it must have felt to spend nine months in Feltham, accused of plotting to kidnap the UK’s best-known family, with the only evidence coming from a fraudster who was paid £10,000. “Mr Turcu has been devastated by the experience and is determined to clear his name.”
Price has taken on Turcu’s case on a “no-win, no-fee” basis.
The original NoW story was based on transcripts of conversations between the alleged kidnappers taped by investigations editor Mazher Mahmood.
An NoW spokesman said: “Details of Mr Turcu’s claim were only received on 29 September. The matter is in the hands of our lawyers, who will be responding in due course.”
By Dominic Ponsford